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Old 11-22-2013, 11:53 PM
 
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of my roommate. She is an experienced dog handler and we live together with four dogs in total. My 18-month Catahoula - who is largely fearless - has decided he is terrified of her, but mostly in specific circumstances. Now, my roommate has FAR more patience than I do and is far more aware of how her behavior affects a dog than I am, so she is unlikely to have done anything to upset him even accidentally. And given that it takes A LOT to unsettle this dog, I don't think that's the case.

It's mainly at night that the problem comes up, and he is fine as long as she doesn't speak directly to him. She can pet him and talk to me or the other dogs, but as soon as she addresses him directly, my Houla takes off for my bedroom like he's being chased.

We've tried just holding him in place and having her pet him (he wags his tail and enjoys it - until she talks to him). We've tried treats (again, works fine until she talks to him).

It's been going on for about 2 months. I'm assuming it's some kind of fear period or something, but he's not growing out of it. And even though I know a lot of dog people, nobody has encountered a similar situation. So I figured I"d bring it to this forum to see if anyone had a similar experience.

Honestly, it's kind of funny, but we don't want this to stick. And as I will be traveling for Christmas, I want her to be able to handle him when I'm gone.

Any thoughts? I think her being his sole caretaker when I'm gone will solve the problem, but I worry about what could happen if he got loose and she couldn't catch him. So I"d like to solve the problem before then.
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Old 11-23-2013, 01:27 AM
 
Location: West Virginia
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She needs to change her Tone of Voice. Doesnt matter what she saying if her tone is Harsh to Him hes being corrected...mostly for things hes Not doing. I see more problems Not less with him living in this kinda stress! Anyway you can take him with you for the hollidays? or Board him somewhere where hes not under verbal attache? poor Dig!
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:36 AM
 
Location: Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie1 View Post
She needs to change her Tone of Voice. Doesnt matter what she saying if her tone is Harsh to Him hes being corrected...mostly for things hes Not doing. I see more problems Not less with him living in this kinda stress! Anyway you can take him with you for the hollidays? or Board him somewhere where hes not under verbal attache? poor Dig!
Now, my roommate has FAR more patience than I do and is far more aware of how her behavior affects a dog than I am, so she is unlikely to have done anything to upset him even accidentally. And given that it takes A LOT to unsettle this dog, I don't think that's the case.


I'm sure her room mate is aware of her tone of voice since the OP stated that the room mate is far more experienced and is FAR more patient with dogs. Suggesting to put the dog in a boarding kennel makes no sense to me because a lot of dogs are terrified of being in one, especially when there is the alternative of him being able to stay in his familiar surroundings.

To the OP, I'm sure others who know more than I will join in, (K9 coach gives excellent advice) but I suggest your room mate hook the dog up to a leash (inside at first) and start working him with treats and simple commands to get him to trust her voice and realize that he isn't being reprimanded by her, just trained.
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:50 AM
 
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He's fine with her talking as long as she's not directly addressing him. That's the key. Figure out if her voice sounds different when she's talking to him. Louder? What if she talks to him but without looking at him? Could it be eye contact that is the issue? Does she say his name when she addresses him? Could he have a negative association with his name? (Many people scold dogs by saying their name in a stern voice and dogs begin to think their name means "owner is pissed"). When she speaks to him is it usually to demand a behavior rather than just to praise him or say hello? In any case, that's where I'd focus. Figuring out what is making the difference between her talking to you and the other dogs vs. talking to the Catahoula.

I'd also work on non verbal communication as it often works better with dogs anyway. Hand signals for basic obedience cues, body language instead of words inviting the dog to her for affection, etc. She should work on building a relationship without using her voice. Don't force it. If he's not interested in interacting with her, then forcing him to do so is creating more and more of a negative association. All of his interactions with her need to be positive and pleasant.
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Old 11-23-2013, 12:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by k9coach View Post
He's fine with her talking as long as she's not directly addressing him. That's the key. Figure out if her voice sounds different when she's talking to him. Louder? What if she talks to him but without looking at him? Could it be eye contact that is the issue? Does she say his name when she addresses him? Could he have a negative association with his name? (Many people scold dogs by saying their name in a stern voice and dogs begin to think their name means "owner is pissed"). When she speaks to him is it usually to demand a behavior rather than just to praise him or say hello? In any case, that's where I'd focus. Figuring out what is making the difference between her talking to you and the other dogs vs. talking to the Catahoula.

I'd also work on non verbal communication as it often works better with dogs anyway. Hand signals for basic obedience cues, body language instead of words inviting the dog to her for affection, etc. She should work on building a relationship without using her voice. Don't force it. If he's not interested in interacting with her, then forcing him to do so is creating more and more of a negative association. All of his interactions with her need to be positive and pleasant.
That's the thing - NOTHING is different. We've lived together since May, and this is brand new as of about 2 months ago. She talks to him the same way she talks to the other dogs. There really is no difference. We are stumped, since he is not at all skittish. Aside from a fear of water (which we will be working on), he is the bomb-proof dog.

He got away from me one day at our intro to agility class and went over the teeter on his own without ever having even approached it before. The crash was HORRIFIC when he landed and he didn't even flinch (the instructor jumped like she'd been shot). He just bounced off the board and looked around for the next obstacle.

He loves being petted and scritched, so when he comes to her, he is immediately given attention and treats if they are on hand. We have been forcing the issue and having her grab his collar and keep him close, but he seems pretty happy with it as long as she is petting him. His tail is wagging and he will be licking her face - but then when she releases him, he takes off. There is no struggling or fear-related behavior while she has control of him, but when she releases him, he flees immediately.

He's not a soft dog. I feel free to raise my voice when he's in the process of doing something forbidden (like chasing the cat) and he responds obediently without fear. He is highly social with people and while he is reserved around other dogs, it is mostly out of lack of interest rather than timidity. (Other dogs, after all, cannot throw balls.) But I can guarantee that my roommate has never given him any reason to be fearful of her.

My roommate IS slightly handicapped, so her gait is a bit strange and her voice is very distinctive, but like I said, he's only fearful of her as of the past 2 months. The entire time before that, he was delighted to be around her. She would include him in play sessions with her dogs, and there was never a problem. He still is playful and friendly around her dogs, too.

We've been trying to keep it positive with the roommate at all times, but it's been 3 weeks with no real improvement.
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Old 11-23-2013, 02:18 PM
 
Location: West Virginia
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having her grab his collar and keep him close, but he seems pretty happy with it as long as she is petting him. His tail is wagging and he will be licking her face - but then when she releases him, he takes off

Grabbing Collar!! Sheesh IF he wont stay near her Without have being Held then STOP doing it. Let him get petted only if he stays Without Grabbing his Collar!

Yes things Can/Will get worse From him Peeing Submissively to Bitting! I suggest she Pet when hes near No Grabbing No Tying him to her!
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Old 11-23-2013, 02:47 PM
 
Location: North Idaho
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The roommate is slightly handicapped? Can she walk? Because what I would do would be to start a program of long leash walks. You, the dog, the roommate, and maybe another very solid dog.

Walk out, not paying any extra attention to the dogs. Give a very nice high value treat at the point you turn around, and then walk back. Have pleasant conversation.

Dogs love walkies. After the first 4-5 walks, have the roommate be the one to present the leashes.

The slightly odd movement should not bother the dog at all. The worst that a solid dog will do would be to study the odd movement for a little while to make sure it is not dangerous and then the movement becomes a non-issue.

I would request that the roommate stop holding the dog by the collar. That might be the only thing that the dog is avoiding. Occasionally, a dog will not tolerate being restrained very well.
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Old 11-23-2013, 04:44 PM
ZSP
 
Location: Paradise
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I see a fair amount of good advice has already been given...all I can add is that your dog is terrified/afraid for a reason. I always respect my dogs instincts with other people. Maybe all the facts are not known at this point and oh, no collar grabbing. My super socialized, well behaved dogs wouldn't take kindly to that either.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:21 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ZSP View Post
I see a fair amount of good advice has already been given...all I can add is that your dog is terrified/afraid for a reason. I always respect my dogs instincts with other people. Maybe all the facts are not known at this point and oh, no collar grabbing. My super socialized, well behaved dogs wouldn't take kindly to that either.
actually, collar "grabbing" was part of his training in his foster home, I was told. He was taught that when you touch his collar it's time to settle down. Basically, if I've got him by the collar, he just stands and waits. We're not talking about a violent yank or anything like that. When goes to her, she holds his collar to keep him close. There's no struggling or pulling on his part. He just kind of knows to wait at that point - it's quite useful in other scenarios, esp. at the dog park. But he exits the room as quickly as he can once he's released - if she speaks to him, no matter the tone, he disappears even faster.

My roommate's own dogs were very timid animals when she adopted them (they are lovely, very well-adjusted animals), and she's fostered many similar dogs and turned them around. I also grew up working with timid dogs. I really can guarantee you that she hasn't done anything specific that would have freaked him out this much - especially since timidity is a completely foreign concept to him. And she is rarely around him without me present, as when I leave the house, he goes down to my bedroom and waits for me to return usually (whether she is around or not). And we've both been hyper-aware of how we act around him lately.

The current plan is just to keep a lot of treats on hand for her to give him and I think I'm going to have her start feeding him in the mornings instead of me doing it. He's very food-motivated, so I think that's our best shot. And he does come to her for treats regularly. I think it just needs to be reinforced. We will just have to keep things super positive when she is around, I guess.

Mainly, I was curious if anyone had experienced something similar and what the trigger was. Or if there was a quick and obvious fix we were missing. I suspect something has changed and it may trigger a memory from before he was fostered. No idea what it could be though.
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Old 11-23-2013, 07:29 PM
 
14,376 posts, read 17,276,565 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonwoodsmoke View Post
The roommate is slightly handicapped? Can she walk? Because what I would do would be to start a program of long leash walks. You, the dog, the roommate, and maybe another very solid dog.

Walk out, not paying any extra attention to the dogs. Give a very nice high value treat at the point you turn around, and then walk back. Have pleasant conversation.

Dogs love walkies. After the first 4-5 walks, have the roommate be the one to present the leashes.

The slightly odd movement should not bother the dog at all. The worst that a solid dog will do would be to study the odd movement for a little while to make sure it is not dangerous and then the movement becomes a non-issue.

I would request that the roommate stop holding the dog by the collar. That might be the only thing that the dog is avoiding. Occasionally, a dog will not tolerate being restrained very well.
Walks are big undertakings for her. She exercises her dogs mainly via fetch games, biking together and various sports that are a low impact on her. She walks her dogs rarely, especially now that the weather has turned icy. A fall could be a serious matter for her. So that's out as far as options go - I agree though: Walking is usually the best cure for things like this.

Like I mentioned elsewhere, the collar holding is not so much "restraint" as an unspoken command for him to stay where he is. It's useful at the vet, etc. You could literally hook one finger under his collar and he would stay put without a twitch. The only time I ever had him struggle while I held his collar was when I was trying to toss him into a stock tank after a herding session. That's when we found out about his Kryptonite - water. I think someone tried to drown him when he was a pup.
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